Pastor Steve Ellison Column: Is It My Long Silence?
Isaiah 57:1-10 paints a clear picture of the great difference between men who attempt to live righteous lives and those who have no such intention. Unrighteous men will always persecute righteous men and rob them of any chance at peace in this life. Unrighteous men will always mock authority, including The Supreme Authority who created all things. The Righteous Judge of the whole universe will certainly call those rebels who mock Him to account. If and when He leaves us to our own desires, we receive a most terrifying punishment.
Isaiah 57:11-13 continues the rhetorical questioning, "Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me, and have neither remembered me nor pondered this in your hearts? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me? 12 I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you. 13 When you cry out for help, let your collection [of idols] save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. But the man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain." (NIV) It is a tragic mistake to fear pieces of carved wood and stone instead of the Living God who spoke creation into existence. Jesus sheds sobering light on this issue, Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 NASU)
We like to think that we have good deeds to weigh against our bad deeds, but the truth is that we really do not have good deeds to speak of because almost always our motives are bad. Thus, our so-called good deeds are not righteous at all. In any case, they will not earn any good standing before God. The idols we worship will be of no help to us either. Our only hope is to put our trust in Christ and take refuge in Him. Then, and only then, will we inherit eternal life with God in heaven.
The passage has one other question, and it relates to our lack of fear of God and falsehood toward God that has caused us to forget God. Verse 11b asks, Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me? This is a common problem with human beings. Our short-sightedness leads to impatience and forgetfulness. We seem to think that the only important time and place in history is that which is occupied by us. We live as if we are the first people to occupy time and space. We seem to believe that delayed judgment means judgment is not coming. 2 Peter 3:8-9 clears this misconception up and at the same time speaks of God’s patient love, But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (NASU)
God is patiently waiting for the time He has already chosen. As every moment passes, humans either accept opportunities to trust God or reject opportunities to trust God. At the perfect time, the time God chooses, He will call every human being to account. Because He has not yet done it, does not mean He never will. Repent and believe the gospel before it is too late.